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Brewing up Business with Skype

We all know that communication plays a vital role when growing a company, but many overlook the power of face-to-face interactions in propelling even greater business success. Paul Toscano is a high-touch entrepreneur who has leveraged the strength of personal connections in building his thriving java empire.

Joyride Coffee, a distributor headquartered in New York City, provides gourmet coffee to offices plagued by the standard 12-cup brew. Paul’s model is based on the insight that customers are much more likely to change their routine when you offer them personal and, in his case, sensory experiences. “You can’t taste coffee over the phone,” jokes Paul.

Joyride hosts in-office tastings of their premium brands such as Stumptown, Intelligentsia and Four Barrel when signing on new customers. Typically, two to three “traveling baristas” walk an audience of anywhere from 5 to 300 people through the makings of a great cup of coffee. Studying, smelling and tasting the coffee beans are all part of the presentation. “The biggest components of that are personality and energy – the ways you communicate with people best,” says Paul.

The market has responded well to Joyride’s intimate approach and the company is currently expanding to San Francisco. Now that they are going bicoastal though, Paul has found it more challenging to maintain his personal working style. For this, he has turned to Skype when in-person meetings just isn’t possible.

In the past, Paul would conduct in-office interviews to gauge his baristas’ communication skills and interpersonal traits – as manifested in their charisma and charm. “To get a good feel for their personality, I feel like an in-person encounter is the only way to do it. But, that’s impossible when we’re in San Francisco and they’re on the East Coast. So I [now] basically do the whole process through Skype.”

In addition, Joyride uses weekly video calls to solve for the day-to day challenges that come with operating two locations. “One executive was working from home, one on vacation, the other two were in the New York office and yet another in the San Francisco office,” says Paul. Happily, all of them were still able to participate in discussing their company’s long-term growth strategy by simply hopping on to Skype.

By building strong relationships internally and with their customers, Joyride is focusing deeply on the people they have set out to serve all the while transforming the nature of their business. From in-office tastings to executive meetings, Joyride’s success is happening one face-to-face interaction at a time. At the heart of this is their commitment to getting personal, no matter the distance.

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